Watch what went down at the First Don Papa Chef and Shaker Competition

The worlds of gastronomy and mixology converged on April 8 for the first Don Papa Chef and Shaker Competition in the Philippines. The competition, held at Martin Place Social in BGC, brought together top chefs and a mix of veteran and up-and-coming bartenders in a food and cocktail pairing battle featuring Don Papa Rum.

Don Papa Chef and Shaker 2019 contenders

Five teams, each comprised of one chef and two bartenders, had two weeks to brainstorm their concepts and come up with the best pairings. On the competition day, they had to create the best pairing using ingredients from The Don’s Pantry and a secret ingredient they’re allowed to bring. The chefs were allotted time to prep and cook their dishes, and the two bartenders whipped up their drinks in front of the judges during team presentations.

Hot Kitchen

The teams took turns presenting their creations before the panel of judges—Icy Mariñas, co-founder and resident mixologist of DrinkManila.com; Andrew Garcia, marketing director and co-founder of Don Papa Rum; Cri Molina, marketing manager for global travel retail and new product development for Don Papa Rum; Amado Fores, owner of Cibo and Amano; Victor Magsaysay, chef de cuisine of Ito Izakaya in Paris; Toogy Clavecilla, culinary consultant; and Philip Golding, head chef of Martin Place Social. The criteria for judging included individual taste, story, and presentation, and the harmony between the drink and the dish.

Don Papa Chef and Shaker judges tasting the pairing

The first team was Team Tarsier, who approached the competition with the mindset that they were the winners and they were representing not just Don Papa, but Filipinos as well. They came up with a concept of Filipino merienda to tie up their creations. Chef RJ Ramos of Lampara prepared Kalabasa, a take on the local snack, camote-cue, made of pumpkin, parmesan, and jazzed up with crispy duck skin. Limbo’s Kiara Opeda had a pretty rocky start when the pantry lacked some ingredients for her cocktail, which was inspired by the divine feminine and a drink you would have if you were in Sugarlandia. It all came together in the end, and she was able to make Katalona, which contained Sampaguita-infused duhat wine, to pair with Chef RJ’s dish. Rambla’s Arnel Sulangsawa took inspiration from our local samalamig for his cocktail Dekada ’90, which he served with Don Papa and pandan reduction and homemade caviar flavored with passionfruit and melon because he wanted to break the wall between gastronomy and mixology.

Team Tarsier—Lampara’s chef RJ Ramos, Limbo’s Kiara Opeda, and Rambla’s Arnel Sulangsawa
Team Tarsier’s drink and food pairing— Katalona, contains sampaguita-infused duhat wine and Don Papa rum; Kalabasa, a take on the local snack, camote-cue, made of pumpkin, parmesan, and jazzed up with crispy duck skin; and Dekada ’90, which he served with Don Papa and pandan reduction and homemade caviar flavored with passionfruit and melon

Next was Team Hummingbird, with a Mexican-themed concept anchored by M Dining’s Executive Chef Tom Bascon’s Sopes de Pollo de Don Papa, composed of chicken marinated in Don Papa Rum, cilantro and mint, fresh sour cream, pickles, lettuce, guacamole, and fresh tortillas made with his secret ingredient, masa harina (corn flour). He realized that Mexican food is closer to ours than Spanish, and wanted to explore those flavors in his team’s entries. Jann Galeh Annis from Lobby Lounge at EDSA Shangri-la named his after-drink after his chef called Tommy’s Favorite, which had strong notes of sweet mango from his homemade spiced mango puree. Hacienda Comida y Cocteles’s Renz Montoya was excited when he found out that Chef Tom was going to make a Mexican dish since he works in a Mexican bar. He came up with a spicy margarita style drink called Don Papa el Mexico which he included his secret ingredient homemade chipotle tequila.

Team Hummingbird—Lobby Lounge at EDSA Shangri-la’s Jann Galeh Annis; M Dining’s Executive Chef Tom Bascon; and Hacienda Comida y Cocteles’s Renz Montoya

 

Team Hummingbird’s drink and food pairing—Don Papa el Mexico with homemade chipotle tequila; Sopes de Pollo de Don Papa, composed of chicken marinated in Don Papa Rum, cilantro and mint, fresh sour cream, pickles, lettuce, guacamole, and fresh tortillas made with masa harina; and Tommy’s Favorite with flavors of homemade spiced mango puree
Hummingbird bartenders

Team Carabao had a unique approach to the competition and decided to wing it and come up with entries on the day itself. Savage’s Josh Boutwood asked his teammates what they would be preparing and made a dish that would go with both their drinks. The result is The Ballade of Bodacious, a tribute to the greatest bucking bull to ever live in US history, made of rib eye steak, umami paste, pickled vegetables, side of sticky pork topped with potato espuma. Eric Jacildo of Polilya created the tangy Golden Kiss, a long drink made with Don Papa, turmeric agave syrup, ginger and lime juice, ginger beer, citrus foam. Alegria’s Raoul Cornelio created a straightforward cocktail with sherry, orange bitter, and candied muscovado called Papa Sherry.  

Team Carabao—Alegria’s Raoul Cornelio, Savage chef and owner, Josh Boutwood, and Polilya’s Eric Jacildo
Team Carabao’s food and drink pairing—Papa Sherry, a straightforward cocktail with sherry, orange bitter, and candied muscovado; The Ballade of Bodacious, a tribute to the greatest bucking bull to ever live in US history, made of rib eye steak, umami paste, pickled vegetables, side of sticky pork topped with potato espuma; Golden Kiss, a long drink made with Don Papa, turmeric agave syrup, ginger and lime juice, ginger beer, citrus foam
Team Carabao bartenders

The fourth team to present was Team Slug, who took inspiration from Thai flavors to tie up their creations. Tipple & Slaw’s Chef Francis Lim made a red curry grilled chicken, with rice puree and toasted rice. Jason Hussein-Ali from The Peak at Grand Hyatt Manila paired that with Sumanglalatik (suman or rice cake, mango, and latik), his take on the traditional Thai mango sticky rice dessert. Jason mixed Don Papa Rum with his secret ingredient, mango horchata, with pandan cordial and lime, creating a balanced and delightful cocktail. Martin Rodny Protacio from Edge at Discovery Primea created Ode to Joy, made with Don Papa Rum, golden falernum, calamansi, and passionfruit.

Team Slug—Edge at Discovery Primea’s Martin Protacio, Tipple & Slaw’s Chef and co-owner Francis Lim, and The Peak at Grand Hyatt Manila’s  Jason Hussein-Ali
Team Slug food and drink pairing—Ode to Joy, made with Don Papa Rum, golden falernum, calamansi, and passionfruit; Red curry grilled chicken with rice puree and toasted rice; and Sumanglalatik made with suman or rice cake, mango, and latik
Team Slug bartenders

Team Gecko was last to present, taking different aspects of Filipino flavors in a cohesive concept. Chef Kel Zaguirre of Locavore gave a unique take on the classic Filipino pulutan, sisig, called Wrong Sisig, a confit of pork belly, pork rib and bacon, with pickled mushrooms and onions, topped with his secret ingredient, ikura (salmon roe), and served in tin cans. Run Rabbit Run’s Enzo Lim paired that with his cocktail called Donya, which is his take on balancing the masculine and feminine. Made with Don Papa Rum, calamansi, elderflower liqueur, passionfruit syrup, Fernet-Branca, basil, egg white, and topped with honey and calamansi caviar, Donya reflected Chef Kel’s dish by choosing complementary flavors and mimicking the sisig concept by choosing to serve it in a metal glass because sisig is commonly served on a metal hot plate. The Peak’s Aliuss Abrazado decided to make a cocktail named The Voice that mimics beer since beer and sisig go together perfectly. He mixed Don Papa with his secret ingredient—homemade tapuy (rice wine from Banaue) reduction made with his aunt’s recipe, grilled pineapple, chocolate bitters, and lime. Aliuss was also conscious about sustainability and topped his cocktail with a carbonated lime soda that he made using his fellow bartenders’ leftover lime peels.

Team Gecko—Run Rabbit Run’s Enzo Lim, Locavore’s chef Kel Zaguirre, and  The Peak’s Aliuss Abrazado
Team Gecko’s drink and food pairing—The Voice, made with homemade tapuy (rice wine from Banaue) reduction, grilled pineapple, chocolate bitters, and lime, topped with a carbonated lime soda; Wrong Sisig, a confit of pork belly, pork rib and bacon, with pickled mushrooms and onions, topped with his secret ingredient, ikura (salmon roe), and served in tin cans; and Donya, made with Don Papa Rum, calamansi, elderflower liqueur, passionfruit syrup, Fernet-Branca, basil, egg white, and topped with honey and calamansi caviar
Team Gecko

After the judge’s deliberation, Team Gecko won the first Chef & Shaker Philippines title. Their cohesive and well-executed concept and complementary flavors wowed the judges, and in a surprising twist, the judges decided to award the prize to the whole team, instead of just one mixologist and the chef.

Team Gecko will receive an all-expense paid trip to London Cocktail Week, guest shifts with Don Papa trade partners, and £1,000 pocket money.

Winning smiles

The first of its kind in the country, the Don Papa Chef & Shaker competition brought out the best in the culinary and cocktail worlds. By bringing those two industries together, Don Papa Rum created a unique competition that highlights the spirit of collaboration. This, in turn, created space for bartenders and chefs alike to explore and experiment concepts and flavors in unexpected ways.

Follow the contenders’ journey at Don Papa Rum’s social media accounts @DonPapaRum on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Visit DrinkManila.com‘s live coverage on Facebook. For more information about Don Papa, visit www.donpaparum.com.

Photos by Marvin de Guia

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